We all know that in order to sell a product, you have to be a bit creative with the truth. The art of sales is, put nicely, concentrating on the good things whilst ‘forgetting’ to mention the negatives. Put less nicely, it involves a certain amount of fabrication.
Sorry to all you sales-types out there for calling you liars, but seriously. Have a look at cosmetic ads in which one application of anti-ageing cream takes ten years of someone’s looks, or deodorant ads in which the scent conjures legions of fawning (and often semi-naked) women. Yeah, right. Good advertising is pretty much just barefaced lying, so it seems.
Of course, none of us believe these ads, do we? But we really want to. The trick is to put forward a lie that everyone loves, and make it outrageous just to make sure you can’t be sued. As long as people know that you’re deceiving them, they don’t mind. They’ll want in, and they’ll buy the product so that, just for a minute, they can indulge in the fantasy.
Imagine the opposite – the unthinkable notion of telling the truth: “This cream might make you look marginally better if you use it every day for the next twenty years. But you’ll still look pretty old.” or “This deodorant smells better than sweat. However, if you’re ugly, you’re still screwed”. You wouldn’t sell much. And what’s worse you’d probably upset a lot of people too.
So that’s sorted – lying sells.
Then, along comes something like the recent Dixons ad, and completely confuses the issue. This ad, admitting happily that Dixons is ‘the last place you want to go’ has at its core an uncomfortable truth. So the ad is rubbish, right? Well apparently not. The ad community seems to quite like it, and Dixons is undoubtedly more firmly in the public eye than it was before. We don’t have access to Dixon’s accounts, but we reckon sales have probably increased. So truth sells too.
This is all a bit confusing for Baby’s tiny minds. Why lie if the truth works? Or does the truth only work sometimes?
What do you think?